Portraits and ponderings from the writing desk of Jill Foote-Hutton.

Getting There


Time and distance-the stuff what turns hardship into humor.  Of course, depending upon the nature of the hardship, the required amount of time and distance can be extremely variable.  Traveling to foreign lands is always an adventure of obstacles and remaining malleable is essential.  One’s malleability depends very much on time tables, so I consider myself fortunate to be traveling to a country with regular intervals of public transportation opportunities and kind people versed well enough in my native tongue to help out a stranger standing in the middle of a street with an immensely quizzical countenance.

The journey began as all journeys out of Red Lodge, Montana tend to:  early!  We awoke at 2:30 a.m. to arrive at the airport by 4:15 so I could check in and wait.  Funny how traveling can make you reference war phrases:  extreme periods of boredom punctuated with moments of terror.  Of course, terror is a dramatic term in reference to travel; rather one’s time is punctuated by moments of, “MOVE! MOVE! MOVE!”  There is no quick flight out of Montana and the shortest route I could find to Denmark was Billings to Denver to D.C. to Copenhagen.  In Denver I had a brief three-hour layover and then another 40 minutes waiting for mechanics to repair an instrument in the cockpit, which would not have been any great burden except that the transfer in D.C. was only one hour, now down to 30 minutes upon our arrival and I was in row 34. 
Park where Guldagergaard Studios are nestled
The usual custom when transferring flights is to exit the plane, come onto the concourse and assess the situation from an easily found glowing wall of monitors with connecting flight information.  When time is of the essence, one does not wish to spend precious minutes looking for the great wall of transfer and this is just what I had to do at Dulles.  Finally I lucked into a pilot who knew where I could locate the information I sought, but he was the third “official” person I had asked.  I’m not much of a runner, but I was speed walking as fast as I could to B40 from D23, down corridors, two sets of escalators, onto a train with a muffled conductor and invisible signage, got off the train up an escalator only to find a sign leading me back down an escalator to the same platform to board a train running the opposite direction to the B gates.  As I disembarked to go up another escalator I was elated to see a sign reading, “GATES B35-51” to my immediate right.  I was heading to B38-40!  Almost there!  Guess what?  The gates to my immediate right began at 51, so MOVE, MOVE, MOVE with 5 minutes left.  The one comfort I had was that if I missed my connection, I would contact a friend in Arlington and grab supper that evening and arrive a day late.  As much as I would have liked to visit with her, I really did not want to miss my flight though.  At last the gate came into sight.  I was the last one to board the plane headed to Copenhagen and after I was through the gate a woman stopped me to ask if I wanted to buy any duty free items.  Briefly arrested to process, “Are you actually asking me if I want to shop right now?”  I hurried down the gangway to board.  The plane was relatively empty so I had no trouble storing my carry-on in the overhead compartment.  Ready to nestle into a good book, I sat down in my seat and oof…

What was this new hell I worked into? 
At the fishing port in Skaelskor

Imagine a wooden box about ½” too small for your rump.  You must get lodged into it because you are about to take off and soar 37000 feet into the air, so you sit on your hip and are grateful you are in the front row of the economy class so you can extend your legs decreasing your rump by a few centimeters.  To make matters more interesting we’re going to build the control panel for the overhead light, stewardess call button, media center on the inside wall of the box right where your femur meets your pelvis.  Then, to add tension and drama akin to the plight of Tantalus, we will place you next to business class where more than one dozen empty and, more importantly, larger seats sit empty.  However, you will be unable to upgrade because such transactions need to take place at check-in rather than in flight.  We will give you a free bottle of red wine with your dinner because, after all, we are a “civilized” airline.  The implication being that American airlines are too wrapped up in rigid moralization to give away alcohol, but they were only kidding.  So drink some wine and we will try to overlook the fact that your rump will be pressing the call stewardess button for the next 7.5 hours.
Akio Figurehead on front of Gallery at GGG

I thought perhaps an in-flight movie would distract me from my uncomfortable position, but no.  Because I was in the first row there was no media screen in the back seat in front of me.  F. Scott Fitzgerald it was!  Re-reading The Great Gatsby is a little difficult when one’s mind is traveling from hip to the 1920s, but I did my best.  Somehow my powers of observation kicked in and I learned my screen was on an arm below my seat, but because of my wedged predicament I had to use the screen of the neighboring seat, which was blissfully empty.  For the next two hours I did a sort of yoga pose with the lower half of my body twisted to the aisle and my upper half twisted inward to lose myself in Steve Carrel’s crazy world, only occasionally wondering if I would ever be able to walk upright again. 
Sculpture outside the Studio
The one very intriguing feature on the flight was the cameras mounted to the bottom of the plane giving everyone a unique view of the runway and the land below us as we flew.  Passengers are also given an update map and time schedule of our progress across the Atlantic.  I think this was a blessing, because it allowed me to see exactly how much longer I had to endure.  “Only 4 more hours.  Only 3 more hours.  OK, I can do this!” Somehow, I managed to catch a little nap before they turned on the lights in the cabin and literally tossed a bag of yogurt and a ham sandwich in my lap.  I saved it for later.

When we finally landed in Copenhagen you cannot imagine how fast I stood up out of my seat!  Quicker than lightening his coursers they flew!  But…
“We’re very sorry ladies and gentlemen, it seems the gangway will not move but we are working to rectify the problem as quickly as we can.”

15 minutes later

“Ladies and gentlemen, sometimes life does not work out as we would like it to.  Now we are also having trouble getting the front cockpit door to open. “

15 minutes later
Boat that reminded me how I felt trapped on the plane!

“Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate your patience,” babies are crying, even-tempered Danes are rolling their eyes, I’m thinking there is no way I’m getting back in that seat, “We are retrieving a moving staircase for the aft door, it should be only a few more moments.”

15 minutes later

“Ladies and gentlemen will you please all turn and exit through the rear of the cabin area.  We thank you for flying Scandinavian Airlines.”
As seen in the library room at the Residence

Down a shaking, windy staircase, two-by-two we go onto a very crowded bus.  Moving through customs was blissfully simple and my luggage made it.  Waiting on a plane for 40 minutes after your landing means your bags are immediately available upon your arrival at the baggage carousel.  Now!  Lashing my carry on to my newly purchased gigantic bag, putting my coat, scarf and gloves on I head to the train counter.  Success!  Ticket purchased for a direct train ride from Kalstrup airport to Slagelse, heading to platform #2 I await in the cool Danish air for the last leg of my journey.  The train pulls up, I get on and it seems slow, but actually it was probably rather fast that I notice there are no English words and no notice that the train I am on is headed to Slagelse.  My first encounter with the Danish people was a gentleman who must have read my face, “Are you going to Central Station?”
Skaelskor, Denmark

“I don’t know?  I want to get to Skaelskor,” and I show him my ticket.

He tells me I need to get off at Central Station and head to the main platform.  He says Skaelskor is in the south and I am currently heading north.  OK!  I thought my paperwork said it was a direct route and the nice lady behind the glass said to go to Platform 2, but okay.  At Central Station I am directed to Platform 6, but in the signage there I do not see the name Slagelse or Skaelskor anywhere.  I do see lots of people in bright orange vests with navy blue uniforms beneath and find I am at last on the right train.  It is a train which requires mustering the strength to haul my luggage up three steps while hundreds of other travelers patiently wait.

Once I’m settled at a table I finally see an LED sign on the car with our stops and the word SLAGLESE finally shows itself.  Now I know how long I have and how much time I will need to prep my luggage for the move down the steps.  The countryside is lovely as the sun comes up, which is not until 9 a.m.  Lush green hillsides and houses out of fairy tales with giant windmills—just lovely really.  As I ride, I’m trying to remind myself to enjoy this scenery, but my mind keeps going back to the timetable.  I’m not at my final destination yet, so my traveling wits can’t completely settle in to the experience.  Upon my arrival at Slagelse, I manage to go up only one elevator unnecessarily before I get to the bus station, but I am more grateful there are elevators and that I don’t have to drag my luggage up and down stairs.  Somehow the elevators smell slightly of urinals, but some things one simply must overlook.  Walking to the bus stop, I quickly find route 470R as predicted on my papers.  A short 30 minutes later the bus pulls up and on I get and off I go.  Almost there.
Resident Housing, Side Entrance 
We drive through small villages that can only be described as quaint.  Actually, I’m pretty sure these villages are the reason the word quaint evolved.  Before I know it we are at Skaelskor and the bus stops at the edge of town.  In my excitement, I fail to remember that I was to wait until we arrived at the bus station in Skaelskor and I get off only to realize, as the bus pulls away, I’ve gotten off too soon.  So I begin the walk into town, which is fairly easy, because every road is paralleled by a bike path so the going is easy if not certain.  I managed to eventually find my way to Guldagergaard thanks to two kind Danes, Rita first then Dennis.  Both said they had only basic English when asked, but upon seeing my dilemma they did not simply tell me the way, each one said, “Just follow me.”  And I did, and so here I am sitting in a damp and windy world of fairy tales and Karin Blixen, drinking hot Kaffe and meeting new friends.  Last night we had a wonderful vegetable soup prepared by Czarina Irina and Brazilian Chicken and Rice cooked by Luciana finished off with chocolate cake and the promise of more cakes to come.  My room is warm and cozy and the house creaks with the wind at night in the most beautiful way.  The studio looks out over the sculpture park, I have local red and yellow earthenware waiting to be molded and now we are about to head off around town and find all the grocery stores as well as the place of dreams and imaginations:  the junk shop!
Artists' Studio

Raised Garden Bed outside the fish monger's store.
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Lunch included a fish cake purchased at the monger by the wharf!